An Unauthorized AI Version of Tom Hanks Is Hawking a Dental Plan Online

Hanks recently took to Instagram to warn that "an AI version" of the actor selling a dental plan is a fake

Tom Hanks at 2023 Cannes. The actor recently took to Instagram to note that an AI version of him was promoting a dental plan that was not authorized by him.
Tom Hanks: The real one is not shilling a dental plan.
Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Tom Hanks is one of the world’s most beloved actors. He’s also not likely to be promoting a random dental plan, but thanks to artificial intelligence and a few bad actors, some people seem to think the star of Big, Philadelphia and Captain Phillips is shilling a product on social media.

Hanks took to Instagram on Sunday to call out the fake. “There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me,” he posted. “I have nothing to do with it.” (He wrote that over a screenshot of the AI-generated image of him, according to The Guardian).

Hanks has previously commented on how AI could make him “appear” in films after he’s deceased. “This has always been lingering,” he said on the Adam Buxton podcast earlier this year (as reported by the BBC). “The first time we did a movie that had a huge amount of our own data locked in a computer — literally what we looked like — was a movie called The Polar Express. We saw this coming, we saw that there was going to be this ability to take zeros and ones from inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character. That has only grown a billion-fold since then and we see it everywhere.”

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AI was a significant part of the recently concluded Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, although the issue still plays a central role in the ongoing SAG-AFTRA actor strike. As well, the daughter of late actor/comedian Robin Williams has recently spoken out regarding AI recreations of actors’ voices.

“I am not an impartial voice in SAG’s fight against AI. I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad,” Zelda Williams wrote on Instagram Stories (as reported by ScreenRant). “These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people, but at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”

Hopefully, the recent win by the WGA will spur AI safeguards not only in the current SAG-AFTRA negotiations but in social media and other tech circles as well. We’ve seen some movement on this, as Google recently announced that political advertisements must disclose any use of AI. But given how quickly a video or social media clip can go viral without context, we’ll all need to simply be more vigilant on what we believe online. And for now, that means ignoring any suggestion from a faux Mr. Hanks about your teeth.

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